Linehan: No Timetable For Stafford

Matthew Stafford stands with Scott Linehan (getty)

The Lions don't want to play Stafford before he's ready, but they don't know when that will be. They don't want to rush him. But they don't want to hold him back, either. More inside, including quotes from offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.

The Lions' philosophy with quarterback Matthew Stafford is simple.

"I think the most important thing is to focus on where the guy is in his development," general manager Martin Mayhew said.

"Is he ready? And when he's ready, you put him in." The Lions want to be patient with the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, and they shouldn't have to rush him with veteran quarterback Daunte Culpepper on a one-year contract.

But that doesn't mean the Lions are taking it easy with Stafford.

"We're not going to spoon-feed him, now," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "He's got to take it in and digest everything we give him and go out and perform."

As Linehan said, the Lions don't want to play Stafford before he's ready, but they don't know when that will be. They don't want to rush him. But they don't want to hold him back, either.

"At this point," Linehan said, "we're just going to throw everything at him, put him in as many situations as we can and see how fast he progresses and not really put a timetable on it."

The Lions drafted Stafford on April 25. Stafford attended rookie orientation the following Friday through Sunday, but under NFL rules, the earliest rookies can return to the offseason program is May 18.

In the meantime, the veterans are going through organized team activities. So the coaches are sending Stafford the practice scripts and film so he can try to keep up.

"We absolutely have mapped out these two weeks, and our fine focus is one getting him up to speed for when he comes back," Linehan said.

Linehan told Stafford he would communicate with him every day.

"I called last night," Linehan said. "He didn't answer. He was at a movie, so he texted me back. So I asked him what movie he was watching.

"No, we have dialogue. I told him, 'As you go through, if you have questions, write them down, call back.' ... It doesn't replace doing it eye-to-eye and face-to-face, but it's certainly the next best thing."

Notes:

So who is the starter right now -- Daunte Culpepper or Matt Stafford?

"It's May," general manager Martin Mayhew said. "We've got plenty of time to figure all that out. Daunte is a guy who's a vet. He's been around. He's a pro, and I trust Daunte. He's got a lot of ability, and I anticipate that if we had something to do today, Daunte would be the guy today. But we've got a lot of time to work, and we'll see how it goes."

Asked why he thinks top quarterback prospects have failed in the past, Mayhew said: "They get drafted early by teams that haven't been successful, and then they got rushed onto the field, which makes it tough to succeed. I think that's been a pattern if you look at a lot of these guys."

Mayhew cited Tim Couch, who went to the Browns first overall in 1999 and failed miserably.

"I'll never forget Tim Couch," Mayhew said. "When they drafted him, they got Ty Detmer. They were going to take their time and work him in and all that, and in Week 2, there he was starting. And so I think that's something you have to be very cognizant of. But on the other hand, there are guys that have been able to go in and play early. I think you can't plan for that."

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